How to Prevent Frostbite?
Frostbite occurs when the skin cells and underlying issues freeze due to exposure to cold environments or when they come in contact with very cold water or metal. It’s quite similar to a fire burn. The first affected areas of the body include cheeks, ears, nose, fingers, and toes, away from your core. In response to cold weather, the blood vessels constrict to decrease the blood flow in those areas and cause ice crystal formation on and under the skin. At freezing temperatures, you can become the victim of frostbite in less than 30 minutes. Let’s first discuss the risk factors associated with frostbite, which will make it easy for you to understand the main heading, which is how to prevent frostbite.
Risk factors associated with frostbite
- People doing jobs where they are exposed to very low temperatures for a long time are at higher risk.
- Homeless people and individuals with mental illness wearing inappropriate clothing are also at higher risk of frostbite than others.
- Malnutrition and dehydration lead to physical stress and diminish the body’s ability to produce or retain heat, making a clear path for frostbite.
- Diabetic patients are also at higher risk of being frostbitten due to impaired blood circulation.
- Infants and older adults are also at higher risk as their bodies take time to adjust to the external low temperatures.
- If you are at a high altitude, you can easily get frostbite in less than 15 minutes owing to freezing low temperatures and low oxygen concentration in the air.
- Excessive smoking and alcohol use can make you easy prey for frostbite due to the false heat you feel.
To prevent frostbite,
Check the weather forecast before going out.
It’s appropriate to check the weather before going out in cold weather. It will help you pack the appropriate clothes and essentials to prevent frostbite.
Be prepared for unexpected weather.
A high temperature in the afternoon does not guarantee that the coming night will also be high. Unexpected rainfall or snow storms are part of the earth’s mysteries. So be prepared with appropriate clothing for any unpredictable weather that may harm you.
Choose to wear layers of clothes.
Wearing a warm coat is not enough to save you from scorching cold winds. You should include all the essential layers of fabrics in your winter clothing code. Let’s have a look at them.
Inner Layer: Wear fabrics that will hold more body heat and don’t absorb moisture like Wool, silk, or polypropylene.
Insulation Layer: An insulation layer will help you retain heat by trapping air close to your body like a fleece.
Outer Layer: The outermost layer helps protect you from wind, rain, and snow. It should be tightly woven and preferably water and wind-resistant to reduce loss of body heat.
Cover your extremities appropriately.
- Your head, foot, and hands are the parts of your body listed as the extremities. These parts are farther from the core and are first affected by cold and frostbite. So make sure to cover these areas to prevent frostbite.
- Wear a warm hat to cover your head. Wear a hat with ear flaps if you plan to go out in freezing temperatures. You may take extra ear flaps too.
- In extremely cold weather, like going on hiking in snow, wear a ski mask to cover your whole face except the eyes.
- Mittens are very good companions for extreme cold weather as compared to gloves. So use them to combat colds.
- Wear warm socks. It’s better to double the layer of socks if the temperature is freezing.
- Always wear waterproof boots in winter to avoid getting wet from unexpected rain and snowfall.
Avoid cold gaps in clothing in winter.
The gaps may occur in your clothing, like where your pants and shirt meet. The same gaps may present near the wrist, ankle, and neck. These are the areas where cold air will hit your skin.
- Tuck your inner layer of clothes tightly into the pants.
- Tuck your socks over the bottom of your pants.
- Tuck your mitten’s top over your shirt’s sleeves.
Bring children inside to save them from frostbite.
Children are more prone to frostbite than adults since they are ignorant of the frostbite sign. It’s necessary to bring your child inside every hour to warm up.
Seek shelter in stormy weather
Frostbite happens very quickly in cold stormy weather. So if you perceive the weather is turning violent, seek immediate shelter.
Take off wet clothes.
Wet clothes increase the process of heat loss and thus lead to Early frostbite. So take off wet layers of clothes as soon as possible to avoid frostbite.
Check yourself for frostbite signs.
If you are out in very cold weather for a long time, this step is very important to stop the frostbite problem early and prevent permanent damage to your body tissues.
If you observe redness in the skin and feel a painful sensation on touching it, it’s an early stage of frostbite. It can be treated by simply rewarming the affected area in warm water (40°C).
If you observe numbness and white to greyish-yellow skin, and when you touch your skin, it’s still soft, you suffer from second-stage frostbite. For treating superficial frostbite, seek medical help.
You will observe total numbness in the affected area and may be unable to move that part. You also suffer from dizziness, confusion, and fever due to inflammation in that area.
The deep frostbite leads to body heat loss to extremely low levels. This paves the way to hypothermia, where the victim shows the symptoms like shivering, confusion, and unconsciousness. The body of the victims feels too cold.
Treatment of frostbite
The treatment includes
- Rewarming the frostbitten areas
- Use of ibuprofen to reduce pain
- Use of tetanus toxoid to reduce inflammation and swelling
- Use of antibiotics to combat infectious blisters
- In severe cases, surgery is necessary to remove the affected dead part. But this is done after 2 to 3 months to know the extent of the injury.
Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the tissue, and your health provider removes the affected area to save other parts of your body from getting rot. It’s essential to take preventive measures to avoid frostbite. As you know, it’s easier to prevent the problem than to solve the problem.
The howtothing.net article on How to Treat frostbite provides similar details on how to rewarm a frostbite area safely and seek professional treatment.